By Sandra Schulman
Art Week Miami has wrapped for another year, leaving huge sales and visual overload in its wake.
The main fair, Art Basel Miami Beach, was a stunner this year and began with a bang last Wednesday as many galleries reported selling out their entire booths within hours of the opening day. The enormous new convention center was literally unwrapping lobby furniture hours before the opening but was otherwise ready to rock with an expanded layout, fresh carpet, big wide aisles and easier access from east and west sides of the building.
More than 83,000 people passed through the new doors in five days, fair officials said, spending millions of dollars.
The large new areas allowed the fair to host an amazing new performance called Autoreconstrucción: To Insist, to Insist, to Insist… in the new Grand Ballroom, a second-floor space practically the size of a football field. The show’s producer, Abraham Cruzvillegas, scavenged Miami for weeks leading up to the piece’s public performance, picking up lounge chairs, chests of drawers, lamps, shopping carts and other day-to-day objects. Three of the groupings were suspended on a gate-like platform, then attached by straps to female dancers.
Wild frenetic music played by violinists began sounding as the women ran, wrestled, charged and ran circles around the hanging sculptures they were strapped to. Soon the pieces began to fall away, leaving piles of scattered junk. By the end of the 20-minute performance, the dancers collapsed amid the rubble. As a metaphor for wrestling with daily life and physical objects it was exhilarating.
Down in the main fair, the buzz was about the Keith Haring installation from Gladstone Gallery and Levy Gorvy. Using original wallpaper from Haring’s innovative NYC Pop Shop from 1984, the rooms were filled with choice pieces including screens, rare ceramic vases, and a knockout triangular painting called Silence = Death that soon sold for close to $9 million.
Haring went from illicitly painting subway cars to creating a widely recognized iconography of radiant babies and jumping men. He protested and addressed AIDS in particular, the disease that took his life in 1990 at age 32. Fashion was in on the Haring action as well; over in the Design District the Alice & Olivia store had a large window display promoting their collaboration with his estate using his colorful cartoony characters in dresses, sequined jackets, shoes and shirts.
Across the street from the store, a new large sculpture by Pamela Crown of a crumpled red Solo cup appeared on the corner lot. A familiar sight at many a party, this bright cherry red discarded piece spoke of the celebration moving on, an apt metaphor for the end of Art Week.
A block away at ICA Museum, the can’t-miss show is Judy Chicago, a Reckoning. While the 1970s feminist artist may be best known for The Dinner Party, the work that stands out is three of her Car Hood sculptures, using techniques that she learned at auto-body school in Los Angeles, spraying the hood of Chevrolet Corvairs in glossy automotive lacquer.
The spray technique, along with the bold colors, and the pinstriping lined up with custom-car culture popular in Southern California, but the imagery in Car Hood is pure Judy with male and female forms, reflecting the challenges she faced as a female in the macho environments of both the auto body shop and the L.A. art world at the same time. There are her dinner plates too, as well as some textile work, drawings and paintings that further explore her sexual imagery dynamic.
Over at Swampspace, the artist-run free-form gallery that doubles as owner Oliver Sanchez’s studio space in back, his daughter Lulu Sanchez debuts a new large-scale work that reflects Miami’s sociopolitical structures and climate dependencies.
Using a wall-sized found banner, Sanchez embellishes the normcore scene with shells, dried flowers, colored beads and paint by sewing, tearing, and tinkering, taking the scene away from the commercial into the natural world. It’s a 20-foot-long stunner, and quite a Miami debut for such a young artist.
Over in Wynwood, the Art Fashion of Patricia Field held a jampacked fashion show party Thursday night, with a full runway in the courtyard outside her month long pop-up shop. A wildly diverse parade of models wore handmade painted outfits defied description, some made with liquid latex, studs, netting, camouflage and graffiti.
Pumping DJ dance music and a diverse crowd of artists, fashion photographers, writers, scenesters and a guy walking round with light-up letters around his neck that spelled ART carrying a potted basil summed up the vibe.
Over at the Sagamore Hotel on Saturday, Jason Newsted, former heavy metal bassist of Metallica and now a fulltime painter, held a brunch bash to showcase his new paintings, sculptural painted guitar works as he played an acoustic set out by the breezy pool deck. His energetic paint style is populated with scrawled creatures and homages to Basquiat, Picasso and de Kooning. The hundreds who attended noshed on crepes and chocolate croissants while cruising the art and the ocean front view.
The whole fair week feels like a well-oiled machine now, with some shiny new parts being added to the art train that barrels through town every December. It’s quite a show, with virtually every neighborhood giving over to visual art, showing off what Miami does best – throw a swell looking party.